Generally favorable reviews - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19
  1. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    Their sweet, determined, gently understated struggle for fulfillment in a superstitiously conservative society makes this densely, deftly packed movie a quiet joy to behold.
  2. 88
    Driver's tough core of honesty and wit is bewitching. So's the movie.
  3. 88
    Circle of Friends is heartwarming and poignant, a love story that glows with intelligence and feeling.
  4. Another nice thing about Circle of Friends is that it escapes a happily-ever-after scenario to provide more bite and toughness than it first promises.
  5. Reviewed by: Bruce Diones
    Although there isn't anything startlingly original in this tale of three Catholic girls falling in love in late-fifties Ireland, it gets a sweet telling in Pat O'Connor's pretty film.
  6. Like an old-fashioned theater program, it tells you early on who and what each of its characters is--and so they prove to be, enjoyably. [10 Apr 1995 Pg.30]
  7. Driver, who is padded but not fat, is an actress with self-possession to spare. Her looks defy conventional rules about modern beauty, but the directness of her gaze and the honesty of her smile make it difficult to look anywhere else when she is on screen.
  8. It's sweet and winsome and a little pat, done with just enough feeling to lift it out of its class. [15 Mar 1995, Pg.F5]
  9. Reviewed by: Emanuel Levy
    Naturally charming without being beautiful, Driver brings extraordinary intensity and tenderness to a role that easily could have become sappy.
  10. 70
    It's not a challenging movie or an original one, but it does have its pleasures -- most notably a radiant, soulful debut performance from Driver, who saves Circle of Friends from being merely an Irish ugly duckling story.
  11. Reviewed by: Alison Macor
    As Benny, [Driver] nudges the film out of its few valleys of smarm, making Circle of Friends a heartfelt love letter to circles of friends everywhere.
  12. As Benny, a small- town Irish teenager in the '50s who goes off to university in Dublin, Minnie Driver has a touchingly awkward prettiness. Her jaw may be as square as a picture frame, but her smile lights her up from within.
  13. Reviewed by: Staff (not credited)
    This unashamedly old-fashioned coming-of-age story is nothing new, but remains highly watchable nevertheless.
  14. 60
    Despite its glaring obviousness, this is charming enough to captivate the viewer, producing unexpectedly strong female characters and faultless attention to detail.
  15. As Benny (short for Bernadette), a big-boned, headstrong lass who strains winningly against the restrictions of family, religion and just plain growing up, [Driver's] a comedic breath of fresh air, easily the best thing about the movie.
  16. Young Benny has a nice smile, and she and Jack seem like pleasant people, but in the end (and in the beginning and in the middle) it's hard to get worked up about them.
  17. 50
    Circle has a wit and warmth that makes something as glibly contemporary as Reality Bites seem trite and toothless. [15 Mar 1995, Pg.06.D]
  18. 50
    From that point on, the movie becomes distressingly predictable, with nary a surprise to be found.
  19. Pat O'Connor directed this likable but unmemorable comedy-drama, which creates some vivid moments without quite managing to flesh out its commonplace characters.

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